How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

Your beautiful book, comic book, or magazine already exists in your head, but ensuring that vision comes to life on the page involves an important choice about the type of paper you use. When you make your own book there are many things to consider. Do you want your images to have texture on the page? Glossy pages or more of a matte feel? Do you want your book to stand out on the bookshelves or to fit in? These are just some of the questions customers ask when trying to decide which different types of paper are right for their project. But have no fear, we’ve simplified your paper choices below to make the selection process easy and straightforward.

Types of Paper for Photo Books

Standard Printing Paper

  • Semi-matte, 80# (118 GSM)
  • Smooth semi-matte finish
  • Manufactured by Verso, a company devoted to quality and sustainability
  • This paper stock comes standard in books with more than 240 pages

Great for: All kinds of photo books or art books where price is a concern.

Premium Lustre Paper

  • Hint of gloss, 100# (148 GSM)
  • Around 35% heavier and slightly more opaque than our Standard Paper
  • Great tonal range and contrast, and prints with deeper blacks than our Premium Matte paper
  • This paper type is only available for books with 20-240 pages

Great for: Photo books that will benefit a little bit more gloss and a heftier page.

Premium Matte Paper

  • Matte, 100# (148 GSM)
  • Slight sheen to paper, which adds richness to its finish feel
  • 35% heavier and more opaque than our Standard Paper
  • This paper type is only available for books with 20-240 pages

Great for: Photo books and art books with a more subdued feel. Paintings and drawings, in particular, are better presented in Matte than Lustre. But if fine art is your thing, also check out the different paper types below.

Mohawk Superfine Eggshell

  • Uncoated, 100# (148 GSM)
  • Archival-quality paper with an eggshell-textured uncoated finish
  • Ultrabright white, high opacity
  • Manufactured by Mohawk Fine Papers, one of the most respected makers of paper for use in photography and design books
  • This paper type is only available for books with 20-240 pages
  • FSC Certified

Great for: Illustration, printmaking, collage, watercolor painting—this is a marvelous paper for fine art projects. It’s also a great choice for photo books, particularly where you want a more artisan look. It will magnify grain.

Mohawk proPhoto Pearl

  • Pearl texture, lustre finish 140# (190 GSM)
  • Made for use in high-end photo books
  • Slightly glossier finish than our Premium Lustre paper, and slightly heavier than our other papers
  • Archival-quality with exceptional 4-color reproduction
  • This paper type is only available for books with 20-240 pages

Great for: Photo books with bright colors, warm skin tones, deep blacks, silvery grays. It has the look of a traditional photo paper.

Premium Lustre – Layflat

  • Premium Lustre paper
  • Ultra-thick, 295# (432 gsm) text stock
  • Pages lay flat with no center gutter break between pages.
  • This paper stock type is available for books with up to 110 pages

Mohawk Superfine Eggshell – Layflat

  • Ultra-premium uncoated matte finish, 300# (622 GSM)
  • Lush, tactile eggshell texture
  • Archival-quality with rich color reproduction
  • Artistic look and feel
  • Pages lay flat with no center gutter break between pages
  • This paper stock type is available for books with up to 110 pages

Mohawk proPhoto Pearl – Layflat

  • Pearl texture, lustre finish, 300# (650 GSM)
  • High-end photographic paper with superb vibrancy and color
  • Soft pearlescent texture
  • Archival-quality with high age resistance (200+ years)
  • Heaviest Layflat paper option
  • Pages lay flat with no center gutter break between pages
  • This paper stock type is available for books with up to 110 pages

Trade Book Printing Options

Economy, Black and White Printing

  • White uncoated, 50# (75 GSM) or Cream uncoated, 50# (80 GSM)

Great for: Books that contain mostly text. Large areas of black will likely show some banding.

Standard, Black and White Printing

  • White uncoated, 50# (75 GSM)

Great for: Books that don’t require color but that have lots of illustrations, graphics, or line art.

Economy, Color Printing

  • White uncoated, 70# (105 GSM)

Great for: Books that have graphics, vector art, or little pops of text color, at a low price point. Photography does work too, but keep your images small and expect a slightly lo-fi look.

Standard, Color Printing

  • White uncoated, 70# (105 GSM)
  • Printing features rich, black ink and deep colors (great for page backgrounds, for example).

Great for: Books with any kind of photos, paintings, collage, illustrations, or graphics.

Magazine Paper Types

Economy Magazine Paper

  • Gloss, 60# paper
  • On par with magazines you’d find at your local newsstand.
  • Can accommodate page counts from 20 to 240.

Great for: Publications with graphics, illustrations, and text. Photos work too, but if your publication is primarily photo-driven, consider Premium.

Premium Magazine Paper

  • Matte, 80# paper
  • Photographs, drawings, and designs are beautifully rendered on the matte, velvet-finish paper.
  • Can accommodate page counts from 20 to 240.

Great for: Fine art magazines, photography journals, fashion, comic books.

How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

Interested in seeing the types of paper in person? You can order a swatch kit here.

The first window you’ll navigate with Clip Studio Paint is the set up page for a new canvas.

You need to specify what size you want your canvas to be and what resolution to keep it in.

How do you choose?

To make it more confusing, the default canvas sizes are not made for Americans who don’t refer to paper as being A4 or A5 size.

Let’s go over your choices:

The “New” Window

How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

First, you need to tell CSP that you just want to draw on the screen. You’re not looking to do an animation or create a comics page or make a comic book (which you can’t do in CSP Pro, anyway.)

That’s what those four colored squares at the top of the window are for (1). Click on the one to the far left to tell CSP you just want to have a canvas to doodle on.

Second, you need to pick what measurement you’re using to find these page sizes. That’s in a drop down all the way over on the far right side of the window. (2) You’ll likely want to use “in” for inches, or “px” for pixels.

Choosing “in” means you have an easy way to tell the difference between A4, A5, A6, B4, B5, and B6 sizes (3). A4, for example, is the closest to 8.5″ x 11″ as you’ll get.

To get an idea of the dimensions of the canvas you’re choosing, there’s a white silhouette of the page (5) in the window.

If you’d rather reverse the dimensions to create a wider page than tall, click the arrows to the left of the Width and Height options (4). The white silhouette will change along with the numbers. I often draw in my sketchbook in landscape orientation, so I’ll switch those dimensions up often.

But What Canvas Size Do You Choose?

As is the answer to so many other questions like this, the answer is a solid, “It depends.”

But that’s not what you want to hear. Let me give you my shortcut idea.

Do you have a sketchbook you draw in all the time? Do you just use random sheets of paper you steal out of the printer?

That’s the size you choose. Start with what’s comfortable. Start with an aspect ratio you’re familiar with.

Don’t stick with it forever. Mix things up once in a while to see new things. Change the canvas size to handle something you’re drawing for a specific space.

How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

But when you’re starting? Set the width and height to the size of the paper you draw on most now. I bet for most people that’ll be 8.5″ x 11″. If you live in your sketchbook, then maybe you’re looking more at 5.5″ x 8.5″ or 11″ x 14″. If you want to be a professional comic artist, you might want to work at something close to the standard 11″ x 17″ pages that comic artists use. (They usually draw inside a 10″ x 15″ section of that. You can buy a two dollar template for this kind of thing, if you’re so interested.)

If your plan is to paint digitally with Clip Studio Paint — and the brush tools are an awesome fit for that — then look at real world canvas sizes. That can go anywhere from 6″ squares to 20″ x 24″

If you’re the type to emulate Todd Nauck and draw on Post-It Notes, then set it to 3″ x 3″ or 4″ x 4″. (If you are emulating Todd, be sure to use a Copic Marker brush to color it in!)

Or, Do The Math

You can convert from pixels to inches pretty easily. Remember that DPI stands for dots per inch. If you’re drawing at 600 dpi and your canvas is 6000 pixels wide, do the math:

6000 pixels / 600 dots (pixels) per inch = 10 inches.

You can work it out in reverse, too. If you have the measurements showing in inches, multiple that by the dots (pixels) per inch to get the number of pixels in the dimension.

600 dots (pixels) per inch x 10 inches = 6000 pixels

We return you now to your less mathematically challenging tutorial…

Which DPI Do I pick?

It’s a printable dpi should you later decide to print something, and it gives you enough fine grain control to zoom in and add details without letting you go so small that you waste time on things nobody will ever see.

If you’re drawing something simple for the web only, you can get away with 72, but realize you’ll never be able to blow that up cleanly to anything larger.

I tend to draw at 600 dpi, which is likely overkill, but it’s always easier to shrink something than to make it larger. And I always export to 72 dpi for the web in the end, anyway. The thing I need to work on most when drawing at that size is to use thicker ink lines. The thinner lines won’t show up so well when you later downsize the image to something more web-friendly.

The Only Hard and Fast Rule…

…is that there are no hard and fast rules. Now that you know where the settings are and what they do, play with them. Experiment. What sizes fit your needs? Are you going to print with something? Then you need a higher DPI. Are you sticking with just the web? Ultimately, 72 dpi is your friend for web reproduction, but could be your worst enemy for creating your art.

Are you drawing something with lots of details? If so, give yourself some room. Use a bigger canvas size with a higher dpi. Feel free to zoom in, just remember that those zoomed in lines will look smaller when zoomed back out to full image size.

If you have a favorite resolution for a particular reason, chime in in the comments below. I’d be curious to hear how you all like to draw.

Different drawing tools suit different styles. Here we explain how to choose the best materials for your toolkit.

How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

With the right drawing tools, you’ll feel more confident in creating your best artwork. But sometimes picking the right tools for your needs can feel like a process of trial and error.

To help you on your way to your dream toolbox, we’ll run through some different drawing tool options you can try out, plus the accessories you’ll need to get started. And if you’re looking to arm yourself with a whole new set of tools, then don’t miss our guides to the best pencils, the best lightboxes, the best sketchbooks and the best art easels. And for some expert tips, check out our guide to charcoal drawing.

01. Graphite pencils

When first becoming acquainted with using pencils for artwork, we’d recommend buying one of each grade from 9H to 9B, so you can get familiar with the hard/light and soft/dark qualities of each. Experiment with various surfaces, and try a wide variety of strokes and mark-making.

If you’re just starting out, you’ll no doubt want to stick with the familiar. Graphite pencils are the most common type of drawing tool as their composition allows for the smoothest strokes.

Once you grow in confidence, though, it’s time to start widening your scope. For instance, you could try solid graphite pencils. These are solid sticks of graphite and clay composite (as found in a graphite pencil), which have no casing other than a wrapper or label. Often called woodless pencils, they’re used primarily for art purposes, as the lack of casing allows for covering larger spaces more easily, creating different effects.

02. Charcoal pencils

Charcoal pencils, as the name suggests, are made of charcoal and provide fuller blacks than graphite pencils, but tend to smudge easily and are more abrasive than graphite. Sepia-toned and white pencils are also available for duotone techniques.

“I use charcoal because it’s a versatile drawing tool that produces a variety of effects, from thin lines to bold strokes,” says Jean-Sébastien Rossbach, an award-winning illustrator, concept artist and painter. However, he adds a word of warning: as with blending tools, “those just starting out can find it tricky to control, with the results often looking messy.”

03. Ink

Of course, drawing tools aren’t just pencils: ink drawing is another popular medium that can lead to some beautiful results. Traditional pen and ink consists of black ink and white paper, creating space through thick or thin lines, repeating marks for texture. There are many options for working in ink so, just as with graphite, you’ll need to find which best suits you by experimenting.

04. Pastels

If you want your drawing to feature vibrant colours then you’ll probably want to investigate pastels. Pastels might not seem like the most obvious drawing tool, but they are a great medium for producing colourful artwork easily, with no need for water, brushes or palettes. The main types of pastels are soft and hard pastels, oil pastels, pastel pencils and water soluble pastels.

Read our guide: How to start pastel drawing for more on key tools and techniques.

05. Carbon and watercolour pencils

You can also try using carbon pencils, which produce a fuller black than graphite pencils, but are smoother than charcoal. There are grease pencils, which write on almost any surface including glass, plastic, metal and photographs.

Plus there are watercolour pencils, designed for use with watercolour techniques (they can also be used by themselves for sharp, bold lines). In short, there’s a world of different drawing implements out there. So start trying different drawing tools, and don’t hold back.

06. Blending and sharpening tools

After gaining an understanding of the abilities and limitations of each pencil, you can then investigate further with blending tools and erasers for different effects. A blending tool can be anything you can use to add texture to your graphite marks.

The most obvious tool you have already to hand: your fingers! Other blending tools you can potentially use include tortillions, blending stumps, paper, cloth, cotton wool, make-up wipes, chamois, paper towels, paper tissue, paintbrushes, and probably a dozen other things we haven’t thought of.

Blending stumps are made from tightly wound paper, formed into a stick and sanded at both ends to create points. Used ideally to create gradations and half-tones, the sanded area is ideal for blending while the point (ideally kept clean) is best used to blend light-toned areas. Unlike fingers, blending stumps leave no oily smears.

Blending tortillons are made from rolled, loose-fibre paper and are pointed at one end. The softer paper texture of blending tortillons gives a different blending texture to stumps, and they can be used to push colour and soften pencil edges.

Be warned, though: attempting the use of blending tools too early can look smudgy and amateurish, so don’t rush into this. You also need to keep your pencils sharp. And while a pencil sharpener is fine when you’re just using a pencil to write with, for drawing we’d suggest you’re better off using a scalpel or craft knife.

Even if you can’t draw a stick person, you can still express yourself and tell stories through the time-honored tradition of sequential art.

How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

Got a tale to tell but don’t want to bang it out as a traditional book? Try doing it as a digital comic — and ignore anyone who thinks visual narratives are a lesser art form or basic fodder for Hollywood action movies. The tradition of storytelling through sequential art has a long and noble history, used in ancient cave paintings, Roman carvings, tapestries and woodblock printing.

Even if you can’t draw or paint, you can still construct a comic. Some educators have found the medium to be a good way to entice children into creative writing. Thanks to a variety of apps, you can make your digital comics on a smartphone, a tablet, a computer or even a plain old piece of paper. Here’s a guide.

Study the Craft

Before you dive in, decide what type of comic you want to make: A single scene like a cartoon from The New Yorker? A “Peanuts”-style comic strip consisting of two or more panels? A comic book with a heroic protagonist like the Black Panther? Or perhaps a manga adventure or a lengthy graphic memoir like Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home”?

If you’re not sure how to begin, the web is full of free advice, including a short guide by the author Neil Gaiman. If your local bookstore is closed or you can’t order online, digital versions of instructional books like “Making Comics,” by Lynda Barry, and “Make Comics Like the Pros,” by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, can be bought and downloaded without leaving the house.

Reading comics can be inspiring, too. The digital store Comixology or a comic shop taking online orders can help you generate your own ideas.

Can’t Draw? No Problem

After you decide what type of comic you want to make, choose the right software for your project. If you’re not an artist and want something easy to learn, consider an app like Canva, Pixton and Storyboard That. These programs let you drag and drop characters, backgrounds and speech bubbles onto a digital canvas; all three are web based and work on a computer or a mobile device. (Another option, the free Make Beliefs Comix site, even encourages students to create their own visual pandemic diaries.)

Although you start with stock objects on the screen, you can customize characters and their actions, then add your own dialogue. You need to create a user account to store and save your creations. Beyond limited versions and free trials, Canva, Pixton and Storyboard That each cost $10 to $13 a month for full access to comics-building content.

For parents and educators looking to keep youngsters busy, the nonprofit Common Sense site has a guide to comics-making tools that also reviews the privacy practices of the apps.

Make Comics With Photos

If you can’t draw but can take pictures, you can craft comics out of the photos sitting on your smartphone. It’s a great way to turn the family pet into a superhero, relive a vacation or jazz up a presentation.

ComicBook for iOS and Comic Strip Pro for Android (both $3) are two of the many apps in this category. Both work the same way: Start by selecting a frame or page layout for your comic. Next, import images from your phone’s camera roll as the illustrations for the panels.

After you arrange the photos, apply filters to the images that make them look like panels in a printed comic. The apps include elements like customizable speech bubbles you can drag onto the images and digital stickers with graphical type (BAM!, POW! and such) to add a few classic comics accents to the page. When you’re finished, just export or email your comic to share it.

Draw Your Own Comics

When it comes to making your own comic, having artistic talent gives you a much wider range of expression and apps designed specifically for making comics from pencil sketches to distribution. The free MediBang Paint, a digital-painting and comics-creation program that runs on computers and mobile devices, is one app for artists.

Artists using iPads have a lot to work with in Comic Draw, a full-featured digital studio that includes drawing tools, page templates, a script editor and perspective guides. The app is $10, but it offers a free 14-day trial.

General illustration and drawing apps like Procreate can also make artwork for comics. But for parents worried that their children are staring at too many screens all day, there’s a more analog approach. Just search up a site (like Printable Paper) offering comic-book templates to download and print so young creators can make their worlds with pen and pencil. You can always scan or photograph the artwork later for digital saving and sharing.

Explore Japanese comics’ influential visual style and get advice on learning to draw manga and anime-style sequential art.

How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

What is manga?

Manga is a catch-all term for Japanese comics. Like comic books from North and South America and Europe, manga includes a near-infinite array of genres and styles. Manga includes science fiction, such as the cyberpunk dystopia Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, historical fiction like Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha, and superhero action comedies like ONE’s and Yusuke Murata’s One-Punch Man. You’ll see manga in drama, high school comedy, romance, horror, and more.

In Japan, manga was historically segmented into categories by gender and age group, the two most prominent being shonen (for young boys) and shojo (for young girls). The lines between those categories have become blurrier in recent years and are generally nonexistent outside of Japan.

There are recognizable visual and storytelling conventions in manga, and a whole generation of fans and young artists have found inspiration in the style and visual language of Japanese comics. Media like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Steven Universe, and modern Disney cartoons like Big Hero Six all show manga influence.

How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

How to start drawing in a manga style.

Aspiring manga artists can learn by trying to replicate particular comics or cartoons that inspire them. “The first step is to allow yourself this period of complete lack of originality,” says author and manga instructor Mark Crilley. “Consider yourself like the apprentice learning from a master.” Writer and illustrator Mildred Louis began that way too. “I started drawing by basically copying anime,” she says.

“As you learn the skills, consider yourself like the apprentice learning from a master.”

Not only will you sharpen your eye, but you’ll get your hand accustomed to the pen or stylus. “Your muscles are not trained yet, and so much of drawing is muscle memory,” comics artist Ethan Young says.

However, copying is very different from plagiarism. While replicating other work as a drawing exercise is valuable, don’t pass it off as your own.

Understanding manga proportions.

Manga characters’ anatomical proportions are part of what makes it instantly recognizable. Manga eyes tend to be bigger than in real life, while mouths are smaller, and the heights of chins, noses, and foreheads all differ significantly from a real human body. Manga hair often defies gravity, and facial expressions look nothing like what you’d see in art striving for realism. This stylization, however, doesn’t mean drawing manga is simple.

“When I started drawing manga faces, I went through this two-step process,” says Crilley. “I thought, ‘This can’t be that hard. It’s cartoony.’ But once you start trying to do it, you realize it really is hard. There’s this careful balance with the facial features that you have to pay attention to — if you don’t nail it, the whole thing falls apart.”

“The biggest thing I recommend is life drawing.”

While it may sound counterintuitive, practice drawing real-life anatomy. “The biggest thing I recommend is life drawing,” says Louis, who notes that many cities have classes fairly accessible to the public. “You need a good understanding of proportions so you can better adjust them when you want to go super stylistic.”

In the first of three sessions, watch Mark Crilley walk you through step-by-step manga illustrations in this live drawing tutorial video on Behance.

A Sturdy Paper Is Great for Beginners

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How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

ROBERT BROOK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

Artists have many choices when it comes to drawing paper, but how do you choose which one to use? It’s a common question, especially for those who are new to drawing. Let’s explore which types of papers artists prefer for graphite pencil drawings.

What to Look for in Drawing Paper

For detailed, realist graphite pencil drawing, you need a sturdy paper that can cope with repeated erasing and working. It should also have a fine texture that allows you to create the illusion of smooth surfaces such as glass, metal, or skin. Most drawing paper has a coarse texture and that will work against you.

For graphite drawings with a moderate degree of realism, a drawing paper like Strathmore Series 400 is a good place to begin. It will give you good results without breaking the bank. It’s off-white, though, so it won’t give the snappy highlights you need for really crisp realism.

For tonal drawing, especially those with lots of darks, it’s worth paying a little extra for Stonehenge paper. This one has a softer surface so it really doesn’t take to lots of reworking and you’ll need to erase with care. However, the fine velvety tooth holds the medium very well and it’s a pleasure to draw on.

Give Bristol Board a Try

Many professional artists opt for bristol board rather than paper for their realist tonal drawings. The surfaces are strong, tough, and very smooth. A plate finish is good for very fine detail and precise lines, while a velour surface will allow for richer darks still give a slightly visible texture.

It’s a good idea to try both to see which suits your drawing style. You can’t go wrong with a plate finish Strathmore Series 500 Bristol Board.

Watercolor Paper, Really?

Another popular option that some realist artists prefer is hot-pressed watercolor paper. You do need to be careful, though.

Some watercolor papers have too much size and are slippery, making them less than ideal for grabbing the graphite of your pencils. Yet, a minimally sized watercolor paper will have an excellent tooth and smooth surface, without the slipperiness of Bristol Plate. Try Fabriano Artistico Extra White or Arches Bright White hot press.

Explore Your Options

When you’re just starting to draw the choices in paper and pencils can be overwhelming. There really is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing either. What is more important is which paper you enjoy working with for your particular style.

It may take some time to find the right paper for you and it’s likely that you’ll change your mind repeatedly as you progress. Since it’s common for beginners to do a lot of erasing, consider starting out with one of those tougher papers. They’re perfect for practicing techniques and very forgiving of any mistakes.

As you gain the confidence you can add to your paper collection and explore some of the other options. After some time, you’ll get a feel for which types of paper you prefer and be able to choose the best for a particular effect you’re going for in each drawing.

Professionals share sketching tips to get you started, and take you further.

How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

Gathering a smogasboard of sketching tips could empower a transformation in your creativity. As most creatives know, the fear of the blank page can be all too real, with even rough sketches feeling out of reach without some guidance. To help you along the way, we’ve collected some expert sketching tips from a wealth of seasoned artists.

You’ll discover all the steps you need to begin on this page, but if you’re already sketching regularly you can jump to page 2 to understand how to build on your existing skills. You may need technical pointers, or just ways to get inspired. Either way, we’re sure to have just the thing to help you.

So prepare your sketchbook and pencils (see our guide to the best pencils and the best sketchbooks if you need new ones), and get ready to learn about sketching.

Click the icons in the top right of the pictures to enlarge them.

01. Know your pencils

Having the right pencil to begin drawing your pencil sketch is one of the most essential sketching tips. The hardness of the graphite is indicated on the side of the pencil: ‘B’ pencils are softer, ‘H’ are harder, and ‘HB’ sits in the middle – there’s a big difference between a 4H and a 4B. “I recommend starting somewhere on the H scale as a foundation and then finishing with the darker B scale,” says travelling convention artist Tim Von Rueden.

When you’re learning how to draw, it’s also worth considering using mechanical pencils alongside traditional ones. “Mechanical pencils are usually better suited for precision, while traditional pencils are great for laying down large areas of texture,” says Von Rueden. “Keep in mind that most mechanical pencils come with HB pre-inserted, which gives you only the middle range to work with.”

02. Take control of your pencil

“If you position your hand closer to the end of the pencil, you have more control and precision, but heavier strokes (darker markings),” says illustrator Sylwia Bomba. “Gripping further up the pencil will give you less control and precision, but lighter strokes (lighter markings).”

For more advice, read our article on how to hold a pencil correctly.

03. Try different mark-making methods

There are plenty of sketching tips and techniques to help you achieve different styles and effects. Above are some examples demonstrating different ways to create form and depth. “It’s important to experiment and find what works best for you, to not only complement but enhance your style,” explains Von Rueden. “While I prefer smoother value transitions with the pencil strokes blending in against a thin outline, you may be more partial to cross-hatching against a bold outline.”

04. Vary your lines

Use varied lines, says illustrator Rovina Cai. “Not all lines are equal. Subtle shifts in the width and darkness of your lines will create a dynamic, visually interesting drawing. Controlling the kind of mark you put down can be tricky in the beginning, but with practice you will be able to create a variety of marks that work together to make a cohesive image. Experiment with different pencil grades (from 3H to 6B) and with holding the pencil at different angles.”

05. Avoid smudging

“When shading, use an extra piece of paper underneath your hand,” advises artist Brun Croes. “This will minimise the amount your hand smudges your pencil lines. If you’re right-handed, start shading from left to right; if you’re left-handed, start at the right and move to the left.

“There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to make a clean-looking drawing that loses its brilliance and value thanks to smudging. Instead, use smudging to your advantage every now and then to smooth out shading. You can do this with several tools. I use a simple piece of tissue paper to get the job done.”

06. Control your edges

Von Rueden uses four different sketching techniques to define object edges: thin, hard, lost and undefined. A thin and hard edges give objects solid borders. Lost edges occur when the object and background values start to blend together, so the edge is implied rather than defined. Undefined edges need to be deciphered by the viewer themselves. He suggests exploring all four types, and combining them to create interest within your work.

07. Use a blending stick for smooth shading

It is possible to create smooth, blended effects using pencils – for example, to capture a sky. “Sometimes it’s preferable for your shading to be less sketchy and more smooth and subtle,” says artist Marisa Lewis. “Pencil lines don’t blend perfectly unless you’re very careful.”

To avoid your initial scribbles showing through, Lewis uses a particular technique – see more art techniques here. “Use spare paper to doodle a big swatch of soft graphite or charcoal pencil, then use a large blending stick to pick up the soft dust to use for your image,” she explains. “Keep using the blending stick and adding more scribbles as you need more graphite.” You can then build up darker areas to create definition.

08. Apply the 70/30 rule

One of the most vital sketching tips is that less can be more! The 70/30 rule helps you create effective compositions. The idea is that 30 per cent of your sketch is filled with the main focus and detail, and the remaining 70 per cent is filler. This less interesting area helps direct attention towards the main subject of your artwork. You can see the rule in action in Von Rueden’s sketch above.

09. Make it (almost) symmetrical

“I like symmetrical drawings, but they often look boring all too quickly,” says Croes. “A good way to prevent this is to add some subtle changes and only keep the general lines symmetrical instead of mirroring every small part. Keeping some elements asymmetrical helps to avoid boring repetition.”

10. Differentiate different textures

To show different textures within your sketch, you need to adjust your technique. “You wouldn’t want to shade skin the same way you shade metallics or fur. They each have unique properties and capturing that will elevate your drawings because of the accuracy depicted,” says Von Rueden.

A good starting point is to consider if the texture is rough or smooth, and then if it absorb or reflects light. “A reflecting and smooth texture, such as chrome, usually has higher contrasts and prominent highlights, while an absorbing and rough texture like cotton has low contrasts and little to no highlight present,” he continues.

Introduction: A Great Technique for Scanning Your Inked Drawings

How to pick the right drawing paper for your comics

This is a nice and quick way to get amazingly crisp and sharp scans of your artwork.
The scanning process itself is crazy fast and you’ll end up with a perfect scan – no need to adjust levels or remove smudges, scratches and noise because of the texture of the paper.

And the best part, at least for me, is that the scan itself will be cut out from the background so you don’t have to spend time removing it and can move straight on to colouring or whatever you’d want to do.

You can only use this procedure with white or, at least light, paper with sketches drawn using ink, felt tip pens, markers and the like.
It won’t work as well when you’ve used a lead pencil or something else that leaves smudges and/or has a faint edge.

You need a scanner (duh) and Photoshop or similar graphics software like Gimp.
I used a semi-professional Agfa scanner but even the cheap ones will work, the only important thing is that it needs to scan at twice the resolution you want to end up with.
So if you want your finished artwork to be in 300dpi it has to be able to scan in 600dpi, this shouldn’t be a problem since most modern scanners can do more than twice that.

In step 4 you’ll find a quick rundown for people who know their way around Photoshop as well as some final notes and examples of the difference between this scanning method and the “regular” one.

Also, please note that it’s important that you do all the steps in the exact same order I describe or you won’t get the same results.

Step 1: Scan Your Drawing

The layout and terminology your scanner’s software use often differs between model and maker but you should be able to figure out the settings to use from my screenshots.
I use an Agfa scanner with the included Scanwise application so, from Photoshop, I just choose Import->Scanwise from the File menu.

Unless it’s done automatic, press Preview and select the parts you want to scan.

Set the original image type to Line Art or, on some scanners, Bitmap.
The other choices should be something like Colour and Grayscale.

As I said in the introduction you need to scan at exactly twice the resolution you need so, since I want my finished example to be 300dpi, I’m setting it to 600dpi.
See second attached screenshot.

Press Scan.

This should be very quick since it only scans black and whites, no grayscale or colour information.
Once it’s done, quit your scanning application and go into Photoshop.

Step 2: Edit Your Artwork and Remove the Background

If your scanning application hasn’t opened up your image automatically, do that now.

If you zoom in you’ll notice it looks very crude and pixelated. Don’t worry though, it’ll disappear as if by magic in the next step.
But before we do that let’s remove the white paper background and any obvious mistakes.

Rotate your image if necessary, select the Eraser Tool (press E on your keyboard) and remove any lines or things you don’t need.
You don’t have to go into the small details at this time so just give it a quick once over and save the image.

Now, since we scanned in Line Art/Bitmap we need to switch the mode to Grayscale, to do that just select Mode->Grayscale in the Image menu.
A dialog box will come up but just leave the setting at 1 and click OK.

Next, open your Layers palette (press F7 on your keyboard if it’s not already visible).
You’ll see the layer’s name has a little padlock next to it so click twice on the layer’s name (should be Background) and click OK, leaving the other settings.

Choose Color Range in the Select menu.
Set the Fuzziness to 0, click once in the white “paper” part of the image and press OK.
See second attached screenshot.

You’ll see that all the white parts of your image have been selected.
Now hit Backspace or Delete on your keyboard, it’ll be removed and replaced by a checkered grid, indicating that it’s now transparent.

I recommend creating a new white layer behind your drawing so you can see it better.

Step 3: Scale Your Image

Time for the conclusion.

In the Image menu, choose Image Size (Alt+Ctrl+I), set the Resolution to half of what it is now and press OK.
See second attached screenshot.

Voila! Photoshop has added anti aliasing, a sort of precise and systematic blur, to the edges of your drawing and you’re left with a neat and crisp image that you can now add colour to, or whatever you want.

Step 4: Quick Rundown, Examples and Notes

Ok, here’s the rundown for the intermediate Photoshop users.

1. Scan your artwork in Line Art at twice your intended resolution
2. Remove any apparent mistakes
3. In Grayscale Mode, unlock your layer
4. Use Select->Color Range to select the white background, then remove it
5. Go to Image Size and set the resolution to half of what it was before
6. Done

If you often scan a lot of drawings in high resolutions I can recommend that you save them in the bitmap mode for later use and do the following steps when you need to, there’s a huge difference to be made in file size in the long run.

The example drawing I made for this Instructable was maybe too simplified, if you do comics or more advanced inks by hand the improvement should be apparent once you try it.
Even though you might be able to get the same results by scanning in grayscale, adjusting the levels and removing any irregularities, this method will save you a lot of time.

I have a feeling you need to have tried scanning inked drawings in grayscale before to actually know how big of a difference this makes but check out the attached examples and compare yourself by switching between them.
Don’t forget to note that the background in the grayscale example is in the same layer as the drawing.

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